Letter from Italy: “Social distance must not become the distance of heart and hope” by Enrica Cavallo.

Over the weekend, the Italian government announced that it will slowly begin lifting restrictions on movement across the country. Family members who don’t reside together will now be allowed to visit one another (as long as they wear masks). But restaurants and cafés won’t be resume operation until early June. Today’s “letter from Italy” comes from Enrica Cavallo in Lecce, Puglia. She and her husband Enzo are both lawyers who also run a wine consulting business.

Hello Jeremy,

I’m a reader of you blog and a wine lover, too. I’m sure you already know that — since you are “at home” in Italy — April marks the beginning of the beautiful season: especially in the south of Italy, the weather gets better, the days get longer, the temperatures change from sparkling to mild and people go out…

Actually no, people here in Italy, like in the rest of the world, are not free to go out and move about because of the coronavirus.

Because of the virus, we are living a strange reality. All is suspended. We’ve put our lives on hold. Time is marked by everyone’s fears. We are submerged in a sea of uncertainties. The silence of the streets is compensated by the mountains of news (especially negative). And even those of us who are strong and can swim often are tired and rely on the current.

We don’t want to drown and so we cling like castaways to what brings a little light into the day.

A blooming flower because despite it all, you can’t stop spring from coming.

An out-of-tune voice coming from a window while music fills the air and breaks the silence imposed by fear.

The smile on your daughter’s face (she had to forget her swimming lessons and now she chats and laughs online with her friends).

The bread you made with yeast and organic flour. After a thousand attempts, it finally leavens and its aroma reminds us that our expectations cannot always be destroyed.

One day at sunset, your next door neighbor greets you from the balcony and he’s holding a glass of wine.

“Bisogna sempre brindare alla vita,” he says. “You must always drink to life” because social distance must not become the distance of heart and hope.

I don’t know what wine he was drinking but his eyes were shining and his voice was cheerful.

I’m sure it was a full-bodied red wine, one of those wines that people especially in Salento love, one of those wines that makes you trade your lucidity for carefreeness.

He stretched out his arm and said “cheers” as he smiled at me. I thought to myself that this, too, is resilience.


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